Close, but no cigar for Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY District 1) who provided a stiff but ultimately failed challenge against Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul during this past Tuesday’s election. While the narrow margin comes as a surprise in a state that hasn’t seen a Republican governor since George Pataki, the congressman managed a near fourth quarter comeback last month as his tough-on-crime platform in New York City seemed to resonate late with voters during an October where violent transit crime dominated the local newscycle.
Recently, the NYPD released last month’s citywide crime stats. And like Zeldin’s margin to Hochul’s, murder and assault numbers are down compared to Oct. 2021. But while there were some reductions in violent crime, every other major index crime is up, including rapes, robberies and burglaries. As expected, transit crimes rose by 28%. Shootings were down by 33.6%. Overall, index crime was up by 5.9%.
“Keeping New Yorkers safe is our mission—and the NYPD’s commitment to the public will never waver,” said Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell. “Our work to suppress violence, to maintain order on our streets and in our subway stations is intelligence-driven, flexible, and focused on prevention. Our officers are elevating their work every day—particularly in the subway system where the public is seeing our visible presence, extensive coverage in trains and platforms, and more engagement with riders and those who work in the system.”
October started with three fatal stabbings on New York City public transit. Since then, multiple other incidents occurred including an argument that escalated into a man fatally struck by an incoming train after he fell onto the tracks. Since then, police presence is tightening on public transit, with increased officer presence on platforms and further mental health response training.
Last month, Gallup found a significant uptick in public perceptions of increased local crime across the country. The poll reported 78% of Americans think there’s more crime in the United States. 73% of Republicans and 42% of Democrats polled told Gallup they thought crime was up locally.
During his campaign, Zeldin frequently went after cashless bail reform, which he sourced a “crime wave” to and promised to suspend. He also targeted Manhattan District Alvin Bragg who he deemed as soft-on-crime. He even promised during the debates to fire the chief prosecutor as his first move as governor if elected.
But the election is now over, with Hochul serving out her first term as the state’s first elected woman governor. Her track record of public safety is largely centered around gun regulation, including keeping concealed carry weapons away from crowded areas like Times Square after the Bruen decision struck down state licensing laws. As for transit crime, she announced cameras would be installed on all New York City subways.
Tandy Lau is a Report for America corps member and writes about public safety for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep him writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://bit.ly/amnews1